More Volcanoes…and more collaborative investigations

Following the successful collaborative seminar between Ordered Universe, the National Glass Centre and the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham, we are holding another one (programme is in the link). This time the home team is Durham, and we’ll exploring more about Volcanology, the questions that Volcanologists ask and why. After a lunch Continue reading

Ordered Universe in Early 2018: Events Update

2018 is set fair to be another busy year for the Ordered Universe team. In addition to submitting our first volume presenting the treatises On the Liberal Arts and On the Generation of Sounds, and the Middle English Seven Liberal Arts, to press, we have a wide range of other events organised. This is just a reminder of those coming up in the first quarter of the year.

The two exhibitions featuring work inspired by the project run over this period. Illuminating Colour, a major exhibition of new work from Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, drawing on Grosseteste’s treatises On Colour and On the Rainbow runs until March 10th. This is a world-class exhibition – do come and see it in situ. And, if you find yourself in the North-East come along to the Dante Exhibition at Palace Green Library in Durham and see, amongst the other treasures, Alexandra Carr’s sculpture of the nested spheres of the medieval universe, and a film installation as well. Alexandra’s work was produced as part of her Leverhulme  Trust funded Artistic Residency at Durham University and Ushaw College focusing on medieval and modern cosmology.

January sees the fifth symposium of the current series, at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. In addition the OxNet course at Southmoor Academy recruits and commences its 6 week seminar series, to be taught to schoolchildren from across the North-East at the National Glass Centre. This involves Richard Bower – on Cosmology, Brian Tanner – on Physics, Joshua Harvey – on Psychology, Nicola Polloni and Kasia Kosior – on Translation, Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie – on Creativity, and Giles Gasper and Tim Farrant on History and Religion. All co-ordinated by Kasia Kosior and the wonderful OxNet team.

February features a number of different activities. Tom McLeish and Giles Gasper are speaking on 7th February, on the modern and medieval cosmos, as part of the Dante Lecture series organised by Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS). Friday 9th February will see the Ordered Universe at the Cambridge e-Luminate Festival of Light for the second year in a row. We’ll be running a series of talks and then show and tell activities over the afternoon and early evening in the Guildhall in Cambridge. And this alongside Ross Ashton and Karen Monid’s new sound and light show. Keeping up the pace, on the 13th February IMEMS is running a day-long workshop on the Scientific Study of Manuscripts, Brian Tanner and Giles Gasper will be talking on Ordered Universe experience of interpreting medieval thought using science and humanities methodologies and approaches. Finally, Jack Cunningham will deliver a lecture in the Ushaw College series in Durham on his discovery of an 18th century life of Grosseteste. ‘ ‘Saving Robert Grosseteste – Fr Philip Perry’s Lost Biography’ takes place on 22nd February, 18.00-19.15

We wrap up the OxNet seminar course in March, and put all focus on the Ordered Universe conference in April – more on that soon, and look forward to the Ordered Universe/OxNet Easter School in Durham – focused on medieval manuscripts, the British Society for the Philosophy of Science conference, and then into the early summer and our Montreal visit, the Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress….and we’re already half way through the year!

De Luce

New Year? New Symposium!


The Ordered Universe team are throwing themselves into 2018 with another symposium that will focus on preparing our collaborative editions and translations of the shorter scientific works of Robert Grosseteste.

The symposium will be held Jan 7th–10th 2018 at Pembroke College, Oxford, and this time around the team will be reading Robert Grosseteste’s De cometis, De sex differentiis and De impressionibus elementorum.

Continue reading

Never trust an historian…Ordered Universe Reading Group in Durham


Well, by Hercules, as Seneca did, in fact, say, the Ordered Universe Reading Group (Durham Chapter), finished this week its reading of Seneca’s Natural Questions. A very interesting experience, with our usual interdisciplinary mix. While the explanations for terrestrial waters might not have commanded universal interest, the books on Comets and on Cloud <Rain, Hail and Snow> were of particular note, given the project symposium in Oxford in May. Continue reading

Ordered Universe Reading Group (Durham)

OU Reading Group Easter-1A short notice to say that our informal reading group will be continuing during Easter term at Durham University. Our first meeting of the term will take place on the 22nd May at 3pm in Seminar Room 2 at Durham University’s Department of History. The reading group will examine the Natural Questions of Seneca (c. 4 BC-AD 65) to think about contrasts and comparisons with medieval authors such as Adelard of Bath and Robert Grosseteste.

All reading will be in English, with reference to the Latin text of the Natural Questions as appropriate.

Please do feel free to pass information around – in the first instance this is intended for staff and graduate students at Durham, other inquiries to attend will be decided on a case by case basis.

If you’d like to register interest please contact Giles Gasper or Tom McLeish ( –

The Nebula image in the poster is reproduced from HubbleSite STISci.

Ordered Universe Reading Group (Durham)

The Durham Ordered Universe group completes its second term next week. We had great fun with Adelard of Bath’s Natural Questions – from the smallest seed to the food which stars might eat, and Adelard’s fierce insistence on reason and the authority of, what he calls, the Arabic learning he had encountered on his travels in the eastern Mediterranean. The part of the nephew became a regular source of fun as well. We then moved onto an exploration of Euclid’s Elements Book 1, with the translation by Adelard at hand (an image from an early 14th century copy, now British Library Burney 275 is above). This involved a lot of triangles. A lot of triangles. And a few circles. However, it was absolutely fascinating to work through the Axioms, Common Notions and then to think through and draw through the propositions. This was especially the case with an interdisciplinary mixed sciences and humanities group: the scientists among us had not formally been taught Euclid, but remarked that the methods and principles were, in fact, deeply familiar. For the humanities experts among us, seeing the beauty of geometry and its foundational place in medieval thinking was a moving experience. Next term we move to Seneca’s Natural Questions, and then we start John Sacrobosco’s De sphera in Michaelmas 2017! With a very short stop on Grosseteste’s Dictum On Clouds next week, as an end of term treat. We’ll publish the timetable for next term shortly  – if you’re in Durham and would like to come along, please let us know (

Ordered Universe Reading Group (Durham)


Just a short notice to say that our informal reading group will continue during Epiphany Term at Durham University. The first meeting of the term will be tomorrow, 17th January, from 15.00-17.00 in the Department of History, Seminar Room 1 and the programme for the term is embedded above. The Reading Group will continue to examine the Natural Questions of Adelard of Bath. All the reading is in English, with reference to Adelard’s Latin text as appropriate.

This reading group is intended primarily for staff and graduate students of Durham University but if you’d like to register interest please contact Giles Gasper or Tom McLeish ( –

Update: The venue for the seminars on 20th February (15.00-17.00) and 13th March (15.00-17.00) is now the IAS Seminar Room.

The Nebula image in the poster is reproduced from HubbleSite STISci.

Ordered Universe Reading Group (Durham)


A short notice to say that an informal reading group will be taking place, under the aegis of the Ordered Universe, at Durham, over the rest of Michaelmas Term, and then again in Epiphany and Easter. The first meeting to register interest and draw up plans takes place tomorrow, at 16.00 in the Department of History, Seminar Room  1. The Reading Group will examine the Natural Questions of Adelard of Bath, an important 12th century precursor to Grosseteste, and also the Natural Questions of Seneca, to think about contrasts and comparison with the medieval authors.The programme for dates, and the editions/translations to be used is embedded above and is also available here. Continue reading